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Washington National Cathedral appoints artist to replace Confederate Windows

(AP) – Washington National Cathedral announced Thursday that it had chosen Kerry James Marshall, a contemporary artist renowned for his diverse works depicting African American culture. To design new stained glass windows that reflect themes of racial injusticeIt will replace a 2017 set of Confederate imagery that was missing.

The landmark sanctuary stated in a statement that the four windows would tell the story. “a new and more complete” story of the nation’s racial history. Elizabeth Alexander, poet will write a poem that will be inscribed in stone tablets right next to the windows. These tablets will also be used to replace older ones that pay tribute to the sacrifices and lives of Confederate soldiers.

The project is expected to be completed by 2023.

The new windows replace an earlier set that honored Stonewall and Stonewall Jackson with saintlike reverence. It had also contained a Confederate flag. After a more national reckoning over Confederate imagery and white supremacy and the aftermath deadly right-wing attacks at Charlottesville (Virginia), and Charleston (South Carolina) in 2015, the cathedral had them removed. The window openings have been covered with plywood since 2017.

This is especially true of the huge neoGothic church. It is filled to the brim with iconography that depicts American history in glass, rock and other media. These images include images depicting presidents, as well as famous cultural figures or state symbols.

The cathedral, also the seat of the Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop and Diocese of Washington, regularly serves as the setting for ceremonies tied to major national events.

Because it recognized the need to make corrections, the cathedral replaced the windows. “false narrative of what America once was.”

FILE – This Tuesday 13 April 2021 file photo shows Washington National Cathedral at sunset. Washington National Cathedral has chosen Kerry James Marshall as a contemporary artist well-known for his diverse works depicting African American lives to design new stained glass windows that reflect justice and racism to replace the windows that featured Confederate imagery.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The old windows “were a barrier to our mission and impediment to worship in this place, and they had no place being in sacred space,”The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, the cathedral’s dean, spoke at a Thursday news conference.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the cathedral to not only create beautiful art but to stake a claim about what and who we value,”He concluded.

Marshall, who made his first visit to the cathedral this week, said it’s too soon to say what the new windows will look like.

“It was really important for me to come here and really get a sense of what the place is, what’s already here, what the mission they’ve tried to accomplish is, and then how I might be able to fit whatever it is the cathedral needs in order to fulfill its ambition for these windows … into that space,”He stated this at the news conference.

He noted that the cathedral was an example of excellence. “monumental”The windows should portray both the pain as well as the dignity of the subject. “the African-American struggle for justice and equality.”

“This is something that’s actually going to take a lot of time, because history itself, as most people know, is a very complicated narrative,”He said.

Marshall calls Hollerith “one of the greatest artists of our time”Alexander was highly regarded, praised, and loved. “one of our nation’s most eloquent and compelling voices.”

This will be Marshall’s first work in the stained-glass medium after a long and acclaimed career using a variety of media to create portraits and other works depicting Black life. Marshall was a MacArthur Fellow in 1997.

Alexander, Mellon Foundation president, read one her poems during the 2009 Inauguration. She has also published many books, including Pulitzer Prize finalists.

She said in a statement that she was honored to be part of the cathedral’s “effort to ensure that those who worship within its sanctuary know that it is truly a space for all people, and that the stories relayed through its sacred walls, windows and other iconography represent the truth of our nation.”

To create a new exhibit, the National Museum of African American History and Culture borrowed a Robert E. Lee glass from a cathedral. “Make Good the Promises: Reconstruction and Its Legacies.”According to the museum, the window was in the “myth-building and the nationwide intimidation of African Americans through the embrace of Confederate symbols.”


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